Monday, March 25, 2013

Public Art Abounds in Provincetown, With Photo Ops Wherever You Look

It's one of the most photographed spots in PTown, for those who have found it. The garden at Ronny Hazel's house is just slightly off the beaten path, and it's been written up in guide books, but not everyone coming to town finds this local treasure trove of public art. Well, "public" in the sense that a good bit of it is visible from the street, easily seen by people walking by this PTown landmark. At 4 Center Street, right across from the side door of the Public Library, is a charming old victorian house with a mansard roof that will get your attention as you walk by, but the really striking thing about this spot is the garden full of artwork you'll find behind the rock wall, pictured above.
Ronny came to Provincetown back in 1975, eventually starting three successful shops on Commercial Street, and in 1990 he bought an abandoned guest house on Center Street, between Commercial and Bradford Streets. He hauled away an old rust bucket of a truck and the mounds of trash that filled the grounds, and he spoke to local stone cutter Peter Annese about building a wall around the yard. As Columbus Stone Masonry began the project both men got new ideas for the design, each finding stones and other objects they wanted to include in the wall. Soon a patio was sketched out. Various sculptures began finding their way into the garden. Stone arches and gateways began appearing, leading from one part of the yard tho another. San Francisco sculptor Pierre Riche had created two large figures from odd bits and pieces of recycled metal. The Wizard and the Griffin, as they are now known, became sentinels overlooking the growing garden, perched on pedestals built to show them off.
Crystals had become popular sellers in Ronny's store Shop Therapy, and as new ones had come in from South America Ronny had picked a few to add to the wall, sort of like big colorful geodes sliced down the middle to expose the sparkling treasures inside. The "peace, love and tie-dye" theme of the shop is also reflected in the yin-yang symbol and the peace sign that were worked into the patio. Shrubs and plant life were added, with footpaths between, and the garden creation was well on its way, though it will probably never be completed. I swear that every time I stop to look, I see something I've never seen before, partly because there's just so much to see, and because this remarkable garden continues to grow and change.
Click this link to see Ronny's Garden in a You Tube video shot from the street. When you are nearby, stop to look for yourself, and then go back again for another look. I guarantee you'll see something different the next time, and the next. When the lights come on in the evening, things you may have missed in the daylight are highlighted, and new things still appear from time to time. Exotic statuary from many foreign lands now ranges from spiritual figures like Buddha and Ganesh to headhunters from Borneo, along with more domestic pieces as well. A visitor who had become enthralled with the garden contributed a pair of cemetery gates dating to the 1800s, which now open onto the arbor.
Look for the enormous snake studded with jewels, winding along the flower bed and up the wall next to the front door, and little details like the breeching whale in the front gate. Of course, we're not invited into the garden, as it is a private home, but from the outside you'll see art in many, many forms, lovely plant life, and, of course, the rock walls are works of art as well. Ronny loves nothing more than overhearing the comments of groups of people as they gather to admire his yard, and you're welcome to shoot all the photos and video you want. So even though this is private property, I'm still going to call it a wonderful piece of public art in Provincetown.

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